Vaskiluodon Voima Oy has inaugurated the world’s largest biomass gasification plant, which was supplied by Metso, in Vaasa, Finland. The plant was inaugurated by the Finnish Minister of Labour Lauri Ihalainen on March 11th. Vaskiluodon Voima’s plant is ground-breaking in many ways, as this is the first time in the world that biomass gasification is being adopted on such a large scale for replacement of fossil fuels.
Clean gas from biomass
The technology of the new plant is based on Metso’s long-term development work. Metso’s delivery included fuel handling, a large-scale dryer and a circulating fluidized bed gasifier, modification work on the existing coal boiler and a Metso DNA automation system. The bio-gasification plant was constructed as part of the existing coal-fired power plant, and the produced gas will be combusted along with coal in the existing coal boiler.
Metso’s pioneering role is illustrated by the fact that the company delivered its first plant using gasification technology back in the 1980s. A major challenge in the Vaskiluoto project was the sheer scope – the now inaugurated plant is the world’s largest biomass gasification plant.
The plant started up at the turn of the year. The contract for the new plant was announced in June 2011, and Metso started the construction at Vaskiluoto in April of the following year, making the actual construction phase fairly short.
“The operational experiences so far indicate that the 140-MW bio-gasification plant functions as planned, and the produced gas burns cleanly in the coal boiler and reduces emissions,” says Mauri Blomberg, Managing Director, Vaskiluodon Voima.
Sights set on energy turnaround
Nearly half of the coal used by the plant can be replaced with gasified biomass. This makes the solution highly environmentally friendly, enables the flexible use of different fuels and significantly extends the life of the current power plant. “The commissioning of the gasification plant is a major step in our company’s target of using mainly domestic fuels for heat and electricity production. This can be considered a complete energy turnaround,” says Rami Vuola, Chairman of the Board of Vaskiluodon Voima and CEO of EPV Energia Oy, joint owner of Vaskiluodon Voima.
The recent gasification technology projects are an indication of Metso’s strategy of offering energy solutions in which technologies related to fuel refining have been brought forth alongside traditional combustion. In May 2012, a similar event was held in Lahti, Finland, with the inauguration of the world’s first waste gasification plant.
“I’m sure that Vaskiluoto’s investment in increasing the use of renewable energy will draw major international attention. Coal powered plants can be made greener, and Vaskiluoto’s plant is leading the way,” says Jyrki Holmala, President of Metso’s Power business line. “Coal boilers still account for the majority of power production in the world. Bio-gasification technology of this scale offers a new, cost-effective option for increasing the share of biomass and, consequently, for significantly decreasing the use of and emissions from coal.”
Later on in the inauguration day, Metso organized a technology seminar in Vaasa, which was attended by some 50 customers from around Europe. A visit to the new gasification plant was also on the agenda.
Vaskiluodon Voima Oy is equally owned by the energy companies EPV Energia Oy and Pohjolan Voima Oy. The company’s power plants, located in Vaasa and Seinajoki, produce electricity and district heating.
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